Chapter Fifteen

“Just as I swore to you by the Lord God of Israel, saying, ‘Assuredly Solomon your son shall be king after me, and he shall sit on my throne in my place,’ so I certainly will do this day.”  1 Kings 1:30 NKJV

Wisdom followed Solomon—now a young man—down the passage. His shoulders drooped. His steps were heavy.

“It will be all right,” Wisdom whispered.

He paused, his hand splayed against the thick wooden door separating him from his destiny.

He was quiet a long moment.

“Thank you.”

He pushed the door open, muscles straining his shirt.

Wisdom realized a moment too late that her eyes lingered on the corded muscle rippling through the fine linen shirt.

She snapped her eyes away and took a deep breath.

Solomon had grown handsome indeed. Too handsome. More so than any other creature she had the pleasure of knowing.

And she knew him well. Their long talks, the way he soaked in everything she said—then actually did it—endeared him to her as no other. She looked forward to the kind of rule he would have after his father David relocated to Heaven.

All of this passed through her mind as the door swung open.

King David lay in his bed, spent in years, laboring for each breath.

Abishag, the young concubine selected to lie close to the king—the physician’s hope that her body heat would transfer to the king and extend his life—rose from her knees and stepped away as Solomon entered. Wisdom shook her head, bewildered at the creatures’ solution. What would they come up with next?

David had not responded to the special “treatment.” He had only grown more feeble as the days progressed.

Solomon’s eyes followed the beautiful young woman as she slipped silently from the room. Wisdom nudged him and he turned toward his father.

“You’ve come.”

The weak voice barely penetrated the furs draped across David’s emaciated body.

“I have, Father.”

“Good. Not—much time. I will soon rest with my fathers,” he wheezed. “But I will see you crowned…before I go. Where is your mother?”

“I am here.”

Bathsheba stepped closer to the bed from her silent vigil.

He grasped her hand and squeezed, though it looked like he hadn’t at all.

“Remember, always remember, I have loved you more than any other.”

Bathsheba nodded solemnly, tears glistening on her cheeks.

Wisdom kept from rolling her eyes by the sheerest of willpower. If Love had forgiven all—the murder, the lust, the adultery—then she had no choice but to do the same. Solomon—the Maker’s chosen heir—had come from the union, bringing something beautiful out of the worst sort of ugliness. Joy out of mourning. Beauty from ashes. Peace from despair.

But Wisdom still saw what could have been. The blueprint the Maker designed for them Himself.

“And Nathan?”

The king’s weak voice interrupted her tangent.

“Here, sire.”

The prophet came close, standing at Solomon’s side.

Two more men drifted out of the shadows, standing on the other side of the bed.

Wisdom instantly recalled their names. Zadok the prophet and Benaiah, one of David’s mighty warriors.

The king lifted trembling fingers, stretching them toward Solomon.

David’s voice grew strong with determination.

“Quickly, this is what you must do so that Adonijah, your brother, does not take the kingdom from you.”

Two angels drifted through the wall and stood on either side of the king. Wisdom recognized their rank instantly. Sentries. Sent to guard the faithful’s last moments on earth before escorting the creatures to their palaces, making those last moments ones of rest and peace.

“Surely it isn’t time yet?” she blurted.

The two glanced at each other.

“Don’t you know?” one asked.

A flush swept across Wisdom’s face even as she tried to staunch its tidal wave. She should know.

She sputtered, unable to form an explanation.

The other looked at her kindly.

“Wisdom. Don’t you think it’s time for a visit?”

Her eyes flew to Solomon, who was listening intently to his father’s plans.

“Don’t worry. He’ll be safe. I’ll see to it.”

Shame gushed over Wisdom under their expectant gazes.

“I can’t. He needs me, especially once his father leaves. Besides…” Her voice trailed away.

How could she say what had started as busyness morphed into avoidance? How could she go back before every creature had turned his or her heart to the Maker? How could she leave her Solomon, now, in his direst time, when he knew not whether he would live through his brother’s plotting?

“Go on. He misses you.”

Her gaze snapped to the first angel who spoke. The corner of his mouth quirked and he nodded.

Then she was hurtling.

Out of the room, through the ceiling, past the skies, the clouds, the birds. Through the empty void of space, past the brilliant stars.

Soaring higher, faster.

Up and over the pearl gates, into the King’s country, toward the palace—the very Throne Room of God. His heart drew her to Him like a beacon.

She plowed into His antechamber to the side of His Throne Room, where He stood, His back to her, surrounded by creatures and angels.

He turned just as she reached Him.

She threw herself at Him, into His arms. His arms clasped tight around her. She heard a few chuckles, but she didn’t care. She felt, rather than saw, the angels ushering everyone out of the room. She glanced over her shoulder.

Moses, Abraham, Enoch—Aurik, Káel, and more—it had been too long since she had spoken to any of them.

The door closed gently.

They were alone.

Wisdom’s heart squeezed, and she buried her face in His neck, suddenly afraid of what she would see when she looked into His eyes. Those wonderful, captivating, heart-rending eyes.

“Wisdom.”

She clung tighter.

He gently disentangled her arms from around His neck.

“It is good to see you, my love.”

She stepped back and ducked her head, scuffing her turquoise slipper on the floor swirling with color. Inexplicably shy. She hadn’t felt this way around Him before. She had always known she was welcome, anytime. Welcome to just—be with him.

He held out His hand to her.

“Come, let us talk.”

She gingerly took his fingertips and trailed Him to the crystal bench that shared the floor’s lightning strikes of color. The bench they had spent countless hours on, designing and redesigning every aspect of the planet He spoke into being. The planet she had crafted at the speed of light—faster, even—as His Spirit had pulled something out of nothing. Creating matter for her to form, to mold, to shape into something wonderful. The sparkling globe at her feet.

But the creatures were all Him.

His design, His creation, His breath—her dust.

She stared at it all in wonder.

It had been too long.

“How is Solomon?”

She soaked in His voice, not even realizing until this moment how lost she had been without it.

“Oh, he is wonderful! But…”

A frown marred her pristine face.

“Yes, my love?”

She turned to Him.

“I’m afraid—so very afraid for him. He listens to what I say, but there is a part of him that he keeps hidden from me—a part I cannot heal if he won’t let me.”

A fiery white eyebrow rose.

“That you cannot heal?”

Wisdom stared at Him, her lips parted softly.

“That I can’t—”

She groaned and dropped her head into her hands.

“No wonder I’ve been having so much trouble! I’ve been trying to fix everything!” She peeked up at Him and crinkled her forehead. “Forgive me?”

He nodded, face solemn but eyes twinkling.

“Of course. I’ve missed you, you know.”

“And I you.” Wisdom shook her head. “I can’t believe I waited so long—never mind. It’s over, done, forgiven, and in the past.”

The King nodded His agreement, His smile tugging at His mouth.

She looked up at Him, her smile radiant.

“How have you been?”

His smile crept across His face and thrilled her to her very toes.

“I thought you’d never ask.”

 

The screams followed her.

“I didn’t mean to kill him! I was just so angry!”

“Come on, there’s gotta be a second chance! Please, somebody give me a second chance!”

“I was a good person; why am I here? Help me! Help me!”

The rest were guttural moans, cries, shrieks, wails. The unyielding sounds of torment.

Folly clamped her hands over her ears and ran.

The more ghosts who filled the cavern deep below Terra’s crust, the harder it was to get away from the constant agony.

The weak beings couldn’t even take it like the angels had. At least they had regrouped, pushed past the pain, the fire, the ice, their hatred for one another, intent on toppling the maker himself. These pathetic ghouls couldn’t function past the torture they were enduring. Which made Folly despise them even more.

She stumbled to a halt.

I have been through worse than you, longer than you, and look at me!

She spread her hands wide and glared at the closest soul.

The woman, chained to the floor with glowing, red-hot chains, screamed and huddled away from Folly, straining at the chains that smoked with sizzling skin.

Folly looked down at herself—saw the hideous beast that she had become.

She snarled and slashed at the woman with her claws, only wanting her to shut up.

Blood ruptured into red ribbons down the woman’s face, but her cries of terror only grew in volume. Folly cried out and grabbed her own head, the woman’s voice bouncing inside her skull, growing in intensity.

She bolted down the tunnel.

I’ll do it! I’ll take Lucifer’s next assignment—where ever it is—whoever it is! Just as long as it is away from here!

She bolted into the chamber she had first awakened to in this awful place, ran to the wall, and crouched near it, not daring to touch the frozen, boiling surface. Her knees pressed into her chest; she squeezed her eyes shut. She rocked on the balls of her feet, too weary to sit. Trying to block the noise. The voices.

Everything went silent.

She stilled.

Her eyes drifted open.

Her gasp stuck in her throat. She rose to her feet, slowly, afraid to shatter the stillness.

She was in Heaven.

And it was completely silent. No one stirred. It was just her and the peaceful scene before her. No one else.

She soaked it all in. The lush, rolling hills. The crystalline castle reaching its spires high into the clouds. The clear-gold path, wending its way from under her feet to the palace beyond. The vibrant Tree of Life resting next to the luminous River of Life, which was flowing from the Throne of God.

Her eyes caught and held onto the Tree.

She had wondered what happened to it after the flood.

A tear traced its way down her cheek.

And then another. Then another.

Tears dripped onto her clothes, her hands, her feet. Still she made not a sound.

She took one step, then another. The path wasn’t as solid as she remembered it. It sank under each step she took, but she couldn’t take her eyes off the beauty before her. Colors she didn’t remember existed. Not a hint of darkness—black, gray, death—anywhere.

Her feet stopped next to the Tree and its glistening fruit. Gold, silver, purple, red, blue, orange—she stopped. Twelve different fruits. Twelve varied colors. Love, joy, peace—fruit she hadn’t tasted in a millennia—longer, it seemed.

She reached out, hesitated. Her hand darted out, snatching a lush fruit. She bit into it as one starved.

It powdered in her mouth.

She choked on the dust, the fruit’s ripe scent snuffed out like a flame. She stared in bewilderment at the charred remains drifting through her hands.

She grabbed another fruit, desperate to taste it.

It disintegrated before it reached her mouth.

She started ripping fruit from the Tree, frantic to relish just one bite. Each turned into silt as she touched them.

She stumbled as she stretched higher to reach the disappearing fruit. She grabbed a branch for support.

The Tree shrank away from her, gnarled and black—the leaves and fruit powdering in the wind.

A tear fell from her cheek. She tracked its descent, impossibly slow, as it plummeted toward a flower. A brilliant, breathtaking, red hibiscus.

She swiped at it too late. It struck the flower, bringing instant death.

Black veins spidered from under her feet, infecting the ground.

She stepped back, whispering “No,” just wanting it to stop.

It didn’t.

“No,” she said a little louder, still afraid to break the eerie calm.

The sweet air caressing her nose turned rancid. She gagged, waving the venom away from her face. The putrid air drifted away, poisoning everything it touched.

She bit back her cry, not wanting to make it worse.

She took another step back and stumbled. Folly looked down.

Everywhere she stepped, the ground crumbled. Turned black. Died.

Black spider webs forced their way out of each footstep, racing toward the celestial city.

Dwellings started to crumble.

Folly’s gaze darted around desperately. She only wanted to make it stop. To fix it. Somehow.

The darkest, ugliest vein of them all, barreled straight toward the palace, cracking ground and flinging it away as it raced toward the crystal structure. The poison contaminated the rest of the landscape, dulling everything in sight.

Folly had to stop it.

She flung herself toward the end of the cancer eating and destroying the loveliness.

She had to fix what she had done. Repair what she had broken.

She tried to fly, but her leftover wings failed her.

She charged across the landscape.

Reaching the end of the vein, she strained for it, intent on catching it—stopping it. It exploded away from her, right into the palace walls.

The castle shattered, the clamor of breaking glass deafening. The spires, far above the land, dropped out of sight, swallowed by the hungry ground.

The glass struck her like sand blasting in a sandstorm, but far worse.

But she couldn’t look away.

The ground devoured the broken palace, and anything remaining above melted like molten lead, fusing into gray, lifeless lumps.

The grinding destruction settled into silence. Nothing moved. Everything was dead.

Folly pivoted slowly, taking it all in. Not one vibrant color remained.

The ground was jagged, torn. A gnarled tree. A dry, cracked creek bed. Ruins. Destruction. Molten lead.

She staggered in a complete circle and faced where the palace had been. Only the remains weren’t there.

The ruins were far away, and the Maker stood in the empty space. In the midst of the decay.

He didn’t say a word. Just looked at her. Sad. Compassionate. Torn. Caring.

With sudden clarity, she knew.

This is what she had done to Earth. To His creatures.

“I’m so sorry,” she whispered.

He didn’t move—didn’t acknowledge He had heard her.

“Didn’t you hear me? I’m sorry! I’m so sorry!”

She was shouting, screaming—trying to make Him hear her. But her voice fell to the ground at her feet.

Then He was gone.

“Nooooo!”

The scream was ripped from her chest. She couldn’t make it stop. She lifted her face to the broiling sky and screamed and screamed.

 

Wisdom and Folly: Sisters by Michele Israel Harper, Chapter Fifteen © 2014

Wind by AndyGarcia666 on deviantART.com  http://andygarcia666.deviantart.com/art/Wind-282373681

Used with permission.

Scripture taken from the New King James Version.  Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc.  Used by permission.  All rights reserved.

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